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Old 08-09-2015, 07:43 PM   #1
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Learning to tow a fifth wheel- Training wheels?

I have never driven a fifth wheel before and neither has my DH. Our sole experience with a tow was a pop-up many years ago. Now, we are in the market for a 30 ft fifth wheel and I am hesitant to use the highway for my driver training. Are there any training courses out there for new drivers who want to learn how to do it right before they get out on the road? We live in Maryland and we would gladly pay for instruction.
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Old 08-09-2015, 09:08 PM   #2
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Actually pretty hard to drive a 5'er

but towing one becomes easy quickly...

Once you get the hooking and unhooking down on the right sized tow vehicle,
really only two things to consider...
1) Height at 13'2 or so for many of them...
2) turning radius, in that you just need to drive on the 'outside' of the curve to give your 5'er a chance to cut the corner a bit...
on right angle turns, drive to where the tow vehicle has JUST enough room to make the turn and the 5'er will follow !

I know, simplified, but true - good luck
and in a few times, you'll say - that wasn't so bad !

My wife had to take over driving one time when we were on the interstate and I was just too tired to drive any longer...
being on the interstate- just point it, right ?!?
TWO miles after we swapped the interstate was shut down and she had to maneuver through TIGHT two lanes for about 10 miles !!!! She did fine !
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Old 08-09-2015, 11:02 PM   #3
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You can take a course if you want. Where I am you are required to get a G1 license (heavy trailer) and take a road test with it in tow for trailers over 10,000 lbs. It's basically a Class 1 without air brakes and 13-speed. I decided to just get the Class1 learner which qualifies for the G1 endorsement required here. It was easy for me as I had towed travel trailers for years before buying a fifth wheel. In your state just do some license inquiry about professional driving courses and you should find something that works if you want to go that route. In reality the big thing is to practice driving it before going on a long trip and get used to how to back up - it maneuvers different than a bumper hitch. And get used to the greater off track on the corners. It cuts more inside your tow vehicle track.
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Old 08-10-2015, 08:57 AM   #4
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You did not mention what you were going to tow the 5th wheel with.

With a 30 foot trailer you are in the 3500 series of tow vehicles.

Many will insist that you are also in dully territory. That will have to be a decision you make as there are many that go with a 3500 single wheel.

But regardless what you tow with go to the scales before any major towing and check the pin weight percentage.

If you have your pin weight percentage in the 25% range there should not be any handling problems.

Also set up the trailer hitch so the trailer is as close to level as possible.

Last do not go cheap on the brake controller. If it is a new tow vehicle it will most likely have an integrated controller which is good.

If it does not have an integrated controller I would recommend the Prodigy P3.
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Old 08-10-2015, 01:00 PM   #5
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At night, when the mall lots are empty is the time to practice backing and turning. Once you get a little confidence there, you will be ready for a trip to your campground. You learn by repetition and building experience. Having confidence in yourself is very important.
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Old 08-10-2015, 01:37 PM   #6
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the other good place are stadium parking lots, other than game day they sit idol much of the time
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Old 08-10-2015, 03:03 PM   #7
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Many of the 2500 and 250 series pull many of the 30's with no problem.....
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Old 08-10-2015, 05:10 PM   #8
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We tow our 34' fifth wheel with an F250 and there is power to spare!

I have several of advice for backing up a fifth wheel.

1. There is a delay between the time you make a correction on your steering and when the trailer actually reacts. By the time it reacts, you have usually over-corrected. Start "following it in" ahead of time.

2. When you learn how to do it, use reference points, so that you are not "re-inventing" the wheel each time. Pace out how far past the driveway or whatever you are backing into you need to be before you start backing, and you will know for each time. For us, the rear of the trailer should be about 20 feet past the edge of the driveway. Then we start turning the wheel right away and she goes in. We start about 3 feet from the edge of the road and go in at a 90 degree angle. There are lots of people who will tell you to start at the other side of the road, but quite often you don't have that much space to work with.

3. Many people will tell you that you always should back in on your non-blind side. You should get comfortable doing it on your blind side as well, because sometimes you have no choice. Every time we go home, we back in on our blind side due to our location (no choice). We use walkie-talkies to communicate.

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Old 08-10-2015, 07:39 PM   #9
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I just upgraded this weekend to a 35-foot 5th wheel from a 31-foot travel trailer so my learning curve was pretty short. However, as others have said, go find a nice big empty parking lot to get the feel for things, just watch out for lamp-posts. After picking up the rig from the hitch service, I practiced a bit as the 5th wheel does respond a bit differently than the travel trailer when backing. Good luck...

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Old 08-11-2015, 07:00 AM   #10
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Originally Posted by mark5w View Post
At night, when the mall lots are empty is the time to practice backing and turning. Once you get a little confidence there, you will be ready for a trip to your campground. You learn by repetition and building experience. Having confidence in yourself is very important.

This is a great idea and tip! Good luck!
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Old 08-12-2015, 08:29 PM   #11
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I pull a 35 ft 5th wheel with a ram 2500 diesel and not over pin weight or GVW
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fifth wheel, training

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